Monday, March 31, 2014

Eats Week: Tofu Fa @ Nam Sang Wai

The second installment of Eats Week is going to be the cute little tofu fa places that you find along hiking trails or great-outdoor spaces.  The closest outdoor trail for us in Yuen Long is Nam Sang Wai.  This path runs along the wetlands of the New Territories, is a great smooth skate, is ideal for photographers and birdwatchers, has a fun boat ride and picnic area at one end, and is a great area to explore in general.  It takes you out of the city and right into a beautiful bit of Hong Kong.

An easy way to get here is to catch a taxi from Yuen Long MTR station.

An alterative route from Yuen Long:
1.  From Yuen Long MTR exit G
2.  Walk to the bus station downstairs
3.  Get on 76K
4.  Get off the bus at the Hong Mo Kiu stop
5.  From this point...I thought it best to share another blog's directions with photos

You'll know you are in Nam Sang Wai because you are traveling along Nam Sang Wai Road
The tofu fa place we frequent along Nam Sang Wai Road

The tofu fa
Tofu fa is a sweet type of tofu.  Most people sprinkle red sugar on it for a little zing.  You can opt to have it cold or warm.  This particular tofu fa place is a beautiful little oasis along Nam Sang Wai.  It sits on a little dock, under the canopy of trees, and filled with an eclectic collection of tables and chairs.  The owners are always so nice and are open for a friendly chat.

This tofu fa place also sells bowls of noodles, drinks, specially teas, and other snacks (above Malt Cracker Snack!)
Beyond having this little pitstop along Nam Sang Wai, the area towards the village has a little meadow and picnic area.  During the off season, it is lovely!  But, during tourist season, we often find ourselves picking up left over potato chip bags, candy wrappers, and plastic bags!  There are trash bins next to the two portable toilets along the way.  There are also trash bins along the entire picnic area, so you can always dispose of your trash there.

A skateboard's view of the Nam Sang Wai area
Another skateboard's view of  the Nam Sang Wai area
Nam Sang Wai area

This particular tofu fa place is a really great resting point.  You can also take your tofu fa TO GO!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Eats Week: Dim Sum @ The Chinese Banks' Assn. Ltd.

I used to be one of those people who would go to the grocery store, shop for a few days of produce, and make a salad for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  Since moving to Hong Kong, I find myself eating out more often than cooking at home.  There is just so many restaurants that I feel like I have to try them all!

This week, I thought it would be nice blog about some awesome EATERIES that Hong Kong has to offer.

The first place I want to blog about is The Chinese Banks' Association Limited (5/F South China Building, 1 Wydham Street, Central).  This place was very "Member's Only."  I was invited by some wonderful friends to have a dim sum brunch.

Dim sum is one of my favorite things to eat in Hong Kong.  Here are some of the dishes that we ordered, which, perhaps, you mind find wanting to test out the next time you head to the dim sum restaurant.

[WARNING]:  I tried to write out the Cantonese as best I could!
Shrimp dumpling [Ha Gau]

Steamed Cake [Ma Lai Go]

Barbecue Pork Bun [Char Siu Bao]

Rice Noodles and Beef [Go Chau Au Hok]
Spring Roll [Chun Gun]

Floating Custard Bun [Lao Sa Bao]

Leek and Pork Deep Fried Dumpling [Ja Gau Ji]

Corn, Shrimp, and Veggie Dumpling [Fun Goh]

Beefy Meatballs [Au Yok]

Another type of Meatball [Gon Jing Au Yok]

Overall, I really enjoyed the restaurant.  I probably enjoyed it mostly for the atmosphere and the fantastic company I brunched with!  The waitstaff were so nice, the place was quiet, and the dim sum was amazing!   Oh how the dim sum was amazingly delicious!   If I could be invited back to The Chinese Banks' Association Limited, I would say "yes" most definitely.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

First Fridays: Ping Shan Heritage Trail

A great alternative to doing a hike is going for a fun nature walk!  Or a Heritage walk!

On this First Friday, I am blogging about my first every Hong Kong Heritage walk.

Hong Kong has two official Heritage Trails, according to the Discover Hong Kong website.  One of them is the Lung Yeuk Tau Heritage Trail out in Fanling.  The other is the Ping Shan Heritage Trail which is right outside of the Tin Shui Wai MTR station. 

What:  Seeing historical buildings, monuments, temples, study halls, and residences of the Tang clan

Where:  Tin Shui Wai area

How to get there:  From Tin Shui Wai MTR station, take Exit E down to the Light Rail station, exit the Light Rail and look up.  You should see the back side of the Tsui Sing Lau Pagoda, which is the first stop on the Heritage Trail.

More information here.
Tsui Sing Lau Pagoda

Shrine of the Earth god

Sheung Cheung Wai Wall

Yeung Hau Temple
Tang Ancestral Hall and Yu Kiu Ancestral Hall

Ping Shan Tang Clan Gallery

Hung Shing Temple

Kun Ting Study Hall and Ching Shu Hin
This trail was great because it was a calm and relaxing walk around a village.  There were plaques on most of the Heritage Sites that told you the history of the building and of the Tang clan.  Plaques also pointed you in the direction of the next stop on the Heritage Trail.

The shots I have here are all of the main buildings along the trail.  Mostly it is the exterior, but you can definitely explore the inside of the temples and residences.

Bring a lunch, set out at around 11 am, explore, then find a place to sit and relax with your friends, and have a picnic.  It took us around an hour and a half to explore!  This area was so beautiful, the locals were so nice, and I learned a lot about the village life of the New Territories.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

DIY: Old School Photo Album Project

I have been watching Keeping Up With The Kardashian recently and got inspired to make a photo album.  For our wedding a few years back, my husband and I got a photo album as a gift.  Pretty old school!  There were 500 slots for photos, so I went through my external hard-drive and pulled out some 500 photos ranging from my years in the Peace Corps (2006 - 2008), my year in Beijing (2009), and my first few years in Hong Kong.

It's a great keepsake that I can look at years later and see all the great times I've had!  <---that's the inspiration I got from Keeping Up With The Kardashians.  That family seems to really value memories, home videos, and photo keepsakes.  Anyhow, going through these photos helped me to remember a lot of great things that I had never told my husband about. the time I was eating hot pot with my Peace Corps site mate and got something stuck in my throat.  A bit of backstory, I was placed in Duyun, Guizhou for two years.  My site mate and I had frequented this particular hot pot place over the course of our service and both considered it our favorite.  

...we were eating there for dinner, I got something stuck in the folds of my throat.  I panicked a bit when I realized that it was really sharp and I couldn't swallow it down.  So, my site mate and I went to the local dentist, where he put tongs down my throat and extracted a small piece of wood.  I was so relieved to have gotten that out of my throat and I was also SO FREAKED OUT that I never went back to that hot pot place again.  

That's what photos do for me...they help me to remember stories from the past that I can share with my husband, the ones I love, and my future kids!

500 photos

Photo album

To make this photo album more colorful and pleasing to the eye, I cut out construction paper "frames"

I thought I would add a personal touch and just write in captions, plus I was lazy!

The finished project!
Do people still make photo albums?  A friend suggested that I just get them printed out in book form.  Now, that is a great idea!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

DIY: Language Learning Material

I have been living in Hong Kong for over 3 years now.  I had previously bought books on learning Cantonese, but found it really difficult to learn on my own.  This year, I had even checked out some language exchanges on, but my level of Cantonese is almost nil!

The other night, my husband and I were at the mall and came across a kiosk that was selling a language learning set geared towards children.  I actually was attracted to the ultra cute pen at first.  But, after playing around with it, my husband and I thought it might be just the "novelty" to help motivate my Cantonese learning!

So we picked up this Easy-Readbook Talking Pen.

The Talking Pen comes with DIY stickers, a manual (in English), and a cute "pen"

My first learning material that I am currently learning vocabulary, sentence structure, and culture from
This company has a bunch of books and flashcards that you can purchase to help you learn, but the MOST VALUABLE thing, in my opinion, is the DIY stickers.

How do the DIY stickers work?
1.  Turn your pen on
2.  Point to the "red recording" button symbol
3.  Talk into the pen
4.  Then press "ok."
5.  Press the "green play" button symbol to listen

Check out the link to see a demo off of Youtube.

This way, if you have a willing friend, they can record any language (in my case Cantonese) for you.

There are many types of electronic reading pens online and a load of Youtube videos on how they work.  The one that we bought ran us around $700 HKD.

1.  I can make my own material (most of which I can just find online)
2.  It's easy to record material using the DIY stickers
3.  DIY stickers can be recorded, re-recorded, and re-re-recorded
4.  The pen comes with a plug in for ear phones (so you don't disturb people when using it)
5.  The pen also comes with a USB link for your computer
6.  The pen uses a charger
7.  It's really cute!

For me, I think, since I have had it for a few days, it has definitely boosted my motivation for learning Cantonese.  It's also great to hear my husband's voice on the recordings.  And, though it is child-centric, I think it does have its fair share of benefits for the adult who needs a bit of a boost in learning another language!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Afternoon Tea at JP Cafe

The JP Cafe is the cafe that you find in the Joint Publishing hookshops around Hong Kong.  Joint Publishing, Page One, Dymocks and Metrobooks are a few of the mainstream bookshops that sell English books.  I think I frequent Joint Publishing most because there are two stores in Yuen Long.  One being in Yuen Long Plaza and the other along Castle Peak Road.

This JP Cafe is at the huge Joint Publishing along Castle Peak Road.  It's a nice and quiet place to sit and catch up with friends, but the food and drinks are mediocre.  I feel like the price is also quite comparable to Starbucks.  It was a nice place to check out though.

The coolest thing about the cafe was the barista art!

My friend got a set:  Hot Dog (not very cafe-appropriate!) and a coffee.  I got a cheesecake a la carte and a peppermint tea for $49 HKD.

The Review:
1.  Presentation (2.5 out of 5)  This cafe was so simple.  The cups were white, the chairs were white, the plates were white, the forks were was quite basic.  So, I think that simplicity was the goal.  I can't say much about presentation besides it was simple.

2.  Taste (2.5 out of 5)  My peppermint tea was just peppermint tea.  My cheesecake was a little airy and made me wonder if I had gotten a Japanese cheesecake...but I have had better.  

3.  Service (5 out of 5)  The one outstanding thing about this cafe was the service.  The baristas were really nice.  When I asked one of the baristas, "Did you DIY these cups?"  He responded with, "Not this one in particular.  Our other baristas drew these."  He was really cordial.  

4.  Atmosphere (4 out of 5)  The cafe was quiet, simply decorated, and clean.  It was nice.

5.  Return-ability (1 out of 5)   Because the JP Cafe I visited was in Yuen Long, I think I may head in another time...if I was in the need for a snack and a cup of tea.  But, I wouldn't go out of my way to return.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Weekend: JCCAC Handicraft Fair

Over the weekend, one of my friends and I went to Shek Kip Mei to check out the Jockey Club Creative Arts Centre's Handicraft Fair.  This building used to be a factory, which you can still see displayed parts on every floor.

JCCAC Handicraft Fair Info:
When:  March 22 - 23 2014
Time:  1 - 7 pm
What:  A fair where handmade/handcrafted items can be sold

Where:  30 Pak Tin Street, Shek Kip Mei, Kowloon
How to get there:  From Shek Kip Mei, take Exit C, walk along Wai Chi Street a few blocks and you will see the JCCAC building right in front of you (You can actually see the building right in front of you when you get out of Exit C).

The Handicraft Fair is held on the ground floor of the complex

There were booths and booths of amazing handcrafted jewelry, leather goods, accessories, metal works, woodworks, embroidery, felting, clothing, paintings, and the like.  Everything was affordable, original, and incredible.

Would I go next time?
The next time the JCCAC Handicraft Fair is projected to be held is on the weekend of June 21 & 22 (Same time, Same place).  I will definitely be there.  It's great to support to homemade/handicraft market.  Plus, the some of the metal work jewelry was amazing and so unique!  And, because the actual hand-crafters are the people behind the booths, you can meet a lot of great people who love the things they make.  You can also get a lot more information on where their products can be found (Facebook links).


Beautiful cloth origami bracelets
It gets rather HK Crowded.  I would suggest visiting the fair when it first opens (1 - 2pm) and around dinner time (5 - 7pm).  This way, you can take your time to look at all the amazing things being sold.

Crowd dying down around 5pm
Besides the Handicraft fair, the studios in the Centre were also open for public viewing!  It is quite the inspirational place to be:  artist studios, art jam spaces, galleries, ceramic stations, glassworks, photography nooks....